« | »

Are you Protecting Your Most Important Online Asset?

Imagine you’re a real estate agent and you have a website where you list your properties for sale and use to get clients. Now imagine one day you come into the office, fire up your computer, go to your website and see this:

It happened to a husband and wife real estate team near where I live in Portland, Oregon. Here’s a local news story about what happened.

So what can the real Bergeron Properties do about this? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

How did this happen? They let their domain name expire. When the registration lapsed a guy in Tennessee with an axe to grind scooped it up and put up this website.

You might think this is a rare occurrence but swiping domain names from unsuspecting owners is more common than you think.  Several years ago I had a client who let an old domain name lapse. She’d forgotten she has a website with a shopping cart running on that site. The people in Yugoslavia who swiped the domain name also scraped the website. Then they hosted the website and the shopping cart on their own servers. To customers it looked like the same site and they had no idea my client no longer owned it. Customers would enter their credit card information and next thing they know their identity has been stolen. The only reason why we were able to get it taken down was because the thieves stole the entire site. If they had put up their own site, there would have been nothing we could do.

Your domain name is your most important online asset and there are 3 simple things you can do to protect it.


You wouldn’t say “I don’t want to deal with the DMV so I’m going to have my mechanic go down there and register my car in their name.”  That would be nuts! Although you might be driving your car, in the eyes of the law you wouldn’t really own it. But business owners do this all the time when they have their web designer register their domain name for them.

Sometimes web designers try to talk you into letting them do it. This is concerning for a couple of reasons. First of all, unscrupulous web designers will try to strong arm you into letting them do it because they know they’ve got you over a barrel if you try to take your business elsewhere. Secondly, even if you have an ethical web designer, if something happens to them (like they die), you can’t contact the company they registered it with and say “Hey. That’s really my domain name. Can I get that back?” Nope. Even if  the domain is your name and your picture is plastered all over the site, they can’t give it to you.

Registering a domain name is easy and only takes a few minutes. I use www.godaddy.com but I can’t give them a full endorsement because they try to get you to tack on all kinds of stuff to your order that you don’t really need.  There are hundreds of registrars out there. Here’s a list from ICANN which is the governing body of the internet.

#2 Use an email address you check regularly.

The main reason why so many businesses lose their domain name is because they start using a new email address and forget to update their contact information with their registrar. When it comes time to renew, the registrar sends emails to the email address in their records. If that email isn’t up to date, the first sign that you forgot to renew your domain name could be finding another website where you expected yours to be. Burn it into your brain. If you change your email address, update your contact info with your registrar.

#3 Set your domain names to auto-renew.

You might consider registering your domain name for multiple years at a time. If you don’t do that, I suggest setting it to auto-renew. That’s what I do with my important domain names. Of course, when the expiration date on your credit card changes, you need to update your card information. But if you’ve used an email address you check regularly, that won’t be a problem.

Imagine the amount of lost business and reputation damage this simple mistake is causing Bergeron Properties. You domain name is your most valuable online asset. Take some simple steps to protect it.


This entry was posted on Thursday, March 17th, 2011 at 5:01 am and is filed under Cautionary Tales. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

Comments are closed.

Copyright © 2001 - 2015 eMarketing Strategist